Instead of heading south from Pittsburgh straight to the jersey shore, we went the QAK way and headed north for a bit up to see Ken’s family in Easton Pennsylvania.  After many exhausting, but beautiful days of climbing, it was nice to ride through the still scenic, less steep, hilly PA.  On our way to Easton, we stopped in Allentown to have a beer with the head of Marketing at the Allentown Brew works, Mike Fegley.  Mike has put on a criterium through the pub for the past couple years.  A criterium, if you dont know, is a loop of some kind that the racers go around a number of times (20ish usually) and its all very technical.  I personally like these races, but i’d like them a lot more if they all went through pubs like Mike’s race.  We all encouraged him to continue this, in hopes of participating some time soon.  

Also, Andy’s dad Mac has been trying to meet up with us somewhere along the way, and finally we were all in the right place at the right time.  Well, Mac drove 10 hours to be in this place, so..that’s not exactly true.  Mac met us at the Allentown Brew Works, had a beer and got directions from Ken to Easton.  We all met in easton at yes, another bar… where Ken’s dad was sitting waiting for us.  It was a great little Stanek/Knepshield get together.  Ken’s mom and an old friend of Ken’s all joined us for more drinks and a nice dinner.  

So, I feel like i’ve learned a lot on this trip, about loads of things – including ken and andy.  but, seeing them with their fathers and talking with Don, Patti and Mac a bit more about their perspective on our experiences and such.. well, i learned a lot more.  We stayed with Ken’s mom, Patti and she made us an incredible breakfast in the morning.  Ken’s parents both had to work, so Mac took us around all day to see the sights in Easton.  We saw the Crayola Factory and learned that you’re not supposed to go in there unless you’re 6yrs old or have a 6yrd old, but it was still fun.  Then to counteract this, we went to the Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville and drank and learned about beer.  It is the oldest privately owned brewery in the country.  Then we all went to Don’s house for a lovely dinner and grappa tasting.  Have you had Grappa?  No… well, its an experience, that’s for sure!

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The next day we had coffee with Mac and got back on the road.  Thank you for everything, Mac, Don and Patti!!

In easton, we were only about 75 miles from home sweet home, but none of us wanted to go back to the city without a nice weekend on the jersey shore…so we headed south.  The ride along the delaware river was beautiful and we stopped at Ken’s friend’s place on the way for a delicious, very filling lunch. Ken’s friend John really wanted us to stay with him, and if were weren’t so determined to get to the beach, it would have been a perfect place to stay!  We continued on to the Burlington-Bristol bridge into NJ… no bicycles aloud..  that didn’t stop us.  Nor did it stop ken who got a flat tire the moment we started sprinting over the bridge.  We gave the bridge guards/police plenty of time to ticket us, becuase as at the bottom of the bridge was the welcome to NJ sign and ken sat there and changed his flat.. so it couldnt have been too big a deal for us to cross there.  We rode a few miles further into Mt. Holly (no, not a mountain, there is a hill that goes up about 4 feet, thats about it) and found a bar to sit and have a beer.  At the bar, I asked our bartender if he had any idea where we could camp… anywhere at all, even behind a gas station would do.  We were tired and this town was not one that would have camping.  Well this guy, James Diamond, generously offered his backyard and boy were we thrilled.  He still had to work, but we went to his house and knocked on the door to meet his parents Carolle and Joseph Diamond – they gave us a very warm welcome.  Insisted that we come inside, offered the shower and opened up their house to us.  We set up our tent inside and when i came in to say thank you and use the bathroom, they explained that they had to be at work at 6am, but they would leave coffee and breakfast for us and please do not go out and spend money.  Geees, so nice!!!  We woke up, drank a pot of coffee, cooked some eggs, cleaned up and got back on the road.  Thank you so much, Diamond Family.  It is so nice to experience such generosity on the east coast.

We were all anxious to get to Avalon and so we made great time, even into a pretty strong headwind.  I grew up in Syracuse, NY but have been spending my summers in Avalon since I can remember.  After a few years of renting, my parents bought a perfect little house near the beach and we have been coming here since.  My brother and I have lived here together over past summers and this year, my two youngest sisters live and work in Avalon.  So when we arrived at 1:30 in the afternoon, we went straight to my sisters ice cream/candy store to say hi and of course, eat ice cream and candy.  As we’re standing there talking to my youngest sister, Rory, Andy gets a call from his dad saying that he and his Uncle Lee are 4 blocks down the street!!  What an awesome surprise.. they met us in Avalon and thankfully took photos when the three of us ran down to the ocean and jumped into the water (in full cycling gear).  It was the greatest moment.  Felt soo good to jump in the water and to know that we have officially made it to the other side of the country!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Another 150 miles to brooklyn, but that’s just some extra… ‘cus we MADE IT!

The rest of the evening was spent drinking beer on my porch with Mac and Lee and my two sisters.  Umm, my sisters were definitely not drinking because they are not 21!  And we ate another incredible, grilled dinner made by Andy.

 

Thanks everybody!!  We’re going to relax in Avalon for the weekend and then head home.